Trans Mountain pipeline reassessment backed by Washington State

Posted Oct 4, 2018 by Karen Graham
Canada's Liberal government announced on Wednesday they would not appeal the August decision from the Federal Court of Appeal that tore up cabinet approval for the pipeline’s expansion. Instead, they are opting for another round of consultations.
The ship POLAR ADVENTURE (IMO: 9244063  MMSI: 303031000) is a Oil tanker registered in Alaska (US).
The ship POLAR ADVENTURE (IMO: 9244063, MMSI: 303031000) is a Oil tanker registered in Alaska (US).
Steven Pavlov (CC BY-SA 4.0)
In the decision written by Justice Eleanor Dawson on August 30, the court found the "National Energy Board's assessment of the project was so flawed that it should not have been relied on by the federal cabinet when it gave final approval to proceed in November 2016."
The decision left the pipeline project in limbo until the energy regulator and the government decided what to do going forward. “The government will not appeal the court’s decision... we are going to do things differently this time," said Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi at a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.
To that end, the government has appointed former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci to oversee a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities using the roadmap provided by the Court of Appeal, as laid out in its written decision.
Kinder Morgan Canada
The consultation process is elaborate
Iacobucci will have to design the consultations along with the requirements of all 117 indigenous groups who would be affected by the pipeline expansion. And consultations won't start until the design phase is completed, and there is no timeline laid out for that. Sohi also said on Wednesday he would not impose a time restriction on the consultations.
But Sohi also repeated again that there would be no Aboriginal veto over the project. Indigenous communities insist they have the final say over projects which would cross their land.
Squamish First Nation, which has been against the pipeline expansion, welcomed the decision by the government not to appeal the decision. But as for the renewed consultations, they are wary of the process.
Bill McKibben is hoping that lawyers representing First Nations can stop construction of the Kinder ...
Bill McKibben is hoping that lawyers representing First Nations can stop construction of the Kinder Morgan pipeline project.
Steve Liptay
“Our nation expects an honorable consultation process that upholds our nation’s Indigenous rights,” said Khelsilem, a band councilor and spokesman for Squamish. “The Trudeau government tried to ram this project through our territory with a predetermined outcome and this was not acceptable to Squamish Nation or the courts.”
The bigger picture includes Washington State
Trudeau is still left in the middle of the dispute between his Liberal government and official opposition Conservatives who accuse Trudeau of "botching the pipeline effort," saying he is against energy development. But it actually involves more than that for the Liberals, British Columbia, Indigenous groups and environmental groups.
All the rallies, demonstrations, sit-ins and vocalizations opposing the expansion of the pipeline have been for a reason. People are concerned about the impact of spills and expanding oil production on the environment.
So it is surprising that on Thursday, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued a statement supporting a further assessment of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
"The Washington State Department of Ecology has submitted comments and registered to intervene in the reconsideration of this project by Canada’s National Energy Board. Specifically, Ecology reiterated its position that the review must increase its geographic scope to include our shared international waters. The new review must consider impacts to southern resident killer whales and the treaty-protected fishing rights of Washington tribes," reads the statement.
"We support the concerns submitted by the Department of Ecology, which they have made before, and we appreciate that the Canadian federal government will now look closely at the very real impacts of moving this oil across our shared waters."
In conclusion, the statement reads, "This project runs counter to everything Washington state is doing to fight climate change, protect our endangered southern resident killer whales, and protect communities on both sides of the border. We urge Canada’s National Energy Board to be comprehensive and detailed in this new assessment so that we all understand what is at stake."